Hedgehog’s Lucky Escape from Bonfire sparks Warning!

East Sussex Wildlife Rescue & Ambulance Service were called out to a hedgehog which crawled out from under a bonfire this afternoon in Pevensey Bay.

Rescuer Thea Taylor rushed to the scene to aid the hedgehog after residents in Coast Road,  Pevensey Bay, spotted the hedgehog crawling out from under the bonfire mid afternoon today (Tuesday 20th October 2020).

“When I arrived I checked the hedgehog over and it was clear he had been one very lucky hedgehog! There were lots of burnt spikes he was suffering from smoke inhalation and on first glance it didn’t look like the skin was badly affected, so I rushed the hedgehog back to WRAS’s Casualty Centre” said Thea.

Once at WRAS’s Casualty Centre at Whitesmith, Casualty Manager Karen Francis checked the hedgehog, weighing over 1 kilo in weight, for burns and other injuries.  “I couldn’t find anything serious but he had a lot of burnt spines which smelt horrible” said Karen.

First aid was provided to the hedgehog including giving oxygen for the effects of the smoke inhalation and bathing the hedgehog in cool water to ease the effects on the skin.

WRAS’s Vet Mike Symons later checked the hedgehog over and was happy with its condition and treatment. The hedgehog will now be kept in under observation to monitor its breathing and skin condition to ensure no complications develop. “The hedgehog will need to be closely monitored and only time will tell whether the skin has been badly effect, we hope he will make a full recovery” said Karen.

East Sussex WRAS is urging people to “Think Hedgehog” this Autumn and to be careful when lighting bonfires.   “As we go into winter many hedgehogs will be finding places to hide up and hibernate. We are asking people to follow our ‘Top Ten Bonfire Safety Tips’ this Autumn. It is unclear how may hedgehogs and other wildlife are killed in bonfires each year, mainly because they rarely get found afterwards. Numerous people have unfortunately had their bonfire celebrations ruined after finding escaping hedgehogs and other wildlife crawling out from bonfires burnt or injured” said WRAS’s founder Trevor Weeks MBE.

WRAS has produced the following top ten tips for keeping hedgehogs and other wildlife safe during the bonfire season:

  1. Re-site the entire bonfire pile before being lit where possible
  2. Use broom handles to lift the bonfire up to check for wildlife sleeping inside before lighting the fire. Use torches to check underneath and listen carefully for any signs of life.
  3. With larger bonfires, erect a mesh fence with an overhang round the bonfire to avoid small wild mammals getting inside
  4. Light the bonfire at one side rather than all round so that any animals or bird inside have a chance to escape
  5. Move bird feeders and other food left out on the ground for wildlife away from the bonfire site for at least a week before building a bonfire
  6. Light bonfires away from over hanging trees and bushes
  7. Use fireworks away from trees and woodland
  8. Place a hedgehog house or simple small hutch with clean and fresh straw, hay and hand shredded paper to provide an alternative home for any animals which might be visiting your garden
  9. Have a bucket of water available in care you need to put out the fire or an animal on fire
  10. Know who to call if you find an injured wildlife casualty

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